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A lot of people consider this their favorite of the Twilight books. It has some cool elements, such as the first serious fight sequence (though it’s a sideline to the main battle that Edward has to narrate to us because Meyer didn’t budget for a fight coordinator and a second camera unit), and something of a resolution to the Edward/Jacob/Bella thing. But unfortunately it also features Jacob basically assaulting Bella to prove that she’s even a little bit in love with him, which is nasty and, to my mind, out of character.

This also begins the devolution of Charlie, Bella’s increasingly irrelevant father. He’s been underused all along — a police chief who mostly spends his time watching ESPN or eating Bella’s cooking as opposed to, say, being called away in the middle of the night by police emergencies. I get that Forks is a quiet town, but come on! Why make him a police chief? If he’d been an insurance salesman it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Meanwhile he mainly exists to hate Edward and love Jacob (I empathize, but still) even when Jacob all but rapes his daughter.

When I first realized that we had rich, white, repressed, reserved vampires in a shaky truce with poor, native American, hotheaded, lively werewolves, I saw a perfect opportunity for Meyer to bring class and race into her romantic/supernatural conflict. Unfortunately that opportunity is totally missed. Not that I expected or wanted her to make it political, but at minimum this contrast could have added a healthy dose of flavor to the story. Instead no one in the story seems to find it the least bit unseemly that the Cullens are rich enough to buy the kinds of cars druglords own and stock their closets with designer clothes they wear only once and throw away (no kidding). These undead people are filthy fucking rich, nakedly consumerist, and flagrantly wasteful, and this is just considered glamorous. In some ways this is the most offensive element of the books to me.

Of course, there’s plenty more to be offended by, if you’re looking for it. The werewolf imprinting, for example, means that they fall in love at first sight (the men do, and the women just love being smothered with affection so much that they fall in love back), and in some cases this means falling in love with much younger women. Do I mean sixteen, fourteen, twelve? No, I mean TWO. Bella is of course shocked when this happens, but Meyer takes pains to explain that the werewolves (who, like vampires, don’t age normally) have the decency to wait until their toddler beloveds are old enough before brotherly love turns into lust (but no word on what age this actually is). It’s probably a double standard I hold that I’d find this intensely creepy in a male author but in a female author I just find it hilarious, and even a little admirable that she gets away with it in a book for young adults.

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